Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Templar by Jordan Mechner. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland

"Much nonsense has been written about the Knights Templar over the years," writes Jordan Mechner, creator of the awesome graphic novel, "Templar." He's right, there has been a lot of nonsense written about them. One of my favourites is that they stole un-published works of Shakespeare and hid them on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Then there's the myth that they were all arrested on a Friday the 13th, forever marking it as an unlucky day, a day that would spawn countless terrible campfire stories and movies. I'm looking at you, Jason Takes Manhattan.

There's no nonsense in Mechner's Templar. He uses actual speeches from the Templar's leaders, members and detractors. Mechner re-creates 14th century Paris as meticulously as he can. We see both sides of the human experience, the gold-lined palaces, the poor wretches living in their own filth and the people who are just trying their best to survive.
This is probably what I loved the most from this book, Mechner doesn't gloss over anything, but he doesn't exaggerate either. Don't get me wrong, the book gets pretty dark at times, especially when depicting the Siege of Acre and the resulting massacre of the prisoners.
The through-line of Templar follows Martin and his friends. Martin returns to Paris after a long excursion around Europe only to find out that the woman he loves hasn't waited around for him. While he finds solace at the bottom of several pints of ale, the king orders the mass-arrest of the Templars, taking their treasure in the process and hiding it in the city.

Forced into hiding for months on end, Martin and his friends eventually discover that their treasure is still in Paris. He then recruits people that are sympathetic to his cause, including his jilted ex-lover, to help rescue the treasure and return it to the remaining Templars that have escaped persecution.

Templar is a deep story filled with smaller yet still interesting side-stories as well as fast paced action, Indiana Jones style puzzles and a well thought out romantic thread.

At 480 pages, it's not a quick read, but that's fine because I didn't want it to end.

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